By Beth Lipton
Seeing the Christmas trees lining the sidewalk, looking forlorn as they wait to be collected — that’s when I know the festivities are really over. Ahead: the abyss of a long winter. It gets me every year and this year, with celebrations hard to come by, the post-holiday blues feels even bluer.
Which makes sense, according to clinical psychologist Dr. Lynn Saladino. “What creates those post-holiday blues is not having something to look forward to, and this year, it’s very hard” she explains. Still, that doesn’t mean you have to wallow in a state of melancholy. Here, Saladino shares a few smart tips for a cheerier outlook.
1. Plan something.
According to Dr. Saladino, looking toward the future is still key — “even if you can’t go on a trip to the Caribbean or someplace warm, like you normally might.” What should you do instead? “Plan something with a friend, something you can put on your calendar to solidly anchor you in the future,” she suggests.
2. Set some goals.
Setting goals for next year can be another step toward feeling better, so long as you do it strategically and with kindness toward yourself. “Make sure some are short-term goals, so you get some quick turnaround, but also let yourself think bigger about what you want,” ” Dr. Saladino says. “Ask yourself if there’s something that can help you feel more connected to yourself, and also connected to the fact that the time isn’t just passing by.”
Allow yourself to really consider what you want and try not to get mired in the details, she warns. “Before you get stuck in the how, it’s okay to just sit with what you’re looking for,” clarifying what those goals are and why you want them, she says. She also suggests writing your goals down. “We’re often afraid to write these things down, especially when we’re living in such a challenging environment. But I encourage you to stay connected to goals as much as it feels good to do that.”
3. Take time for self-care.
Another way to help yourself feel better is by doing small things to refresh your self care: Update your skincare routine for the cold weather, for example, or take advantage of post-holiday sales to give your work-from-home wardrobe an upgrade. “Having things that help you feel like yourself again can be very helpful,” she says.
Since we’re not seeing people as much, we may have let those things fall by the wayside, so giving yourself some new treats to look and feel better can go a long way. And they don’t have to be expensive; even a new bath bomb from the drugstore or a homemade face mask can make a difference.
4. Give yourself room to feel sad.
It’s also important not to gloss over your sadness. “Allow yourself the room to feel bummed. You’re allowed,” Dr. Saladino says. “Make some room for the grief that this holiday wasn’t as great as you thought it was going to be. There’s nothing wrong with the fact that people are feeling a lot of that right now. Make some space for just having those feelings.”